US President-elect Donald Trump has angrily denied reports that Russia had obtained compromising personal and financial information about him, calling it a “tremendous blot” on the record of the intelligence community if it had released such material.
In his first media conference since winning the November 8 election, Trump called the allegations “phony” and attacked news organisations for publishing the material.
“It’s all fake news,” Trump said on Wednesday. “It didn’t happen,” he added.
“I think it was disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so fake and so false out … that’s something that Nazi Germany would have done, and did do.”
The dossier that emerged late on Tuesday was first reported by CNN. BuzzFeed published the full document.
Two US officials said the allegations, which one called “unsubstantiated”, were contained in a two-page memo appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election that was presented last week to Trump and to President Barack Obama.
‘Relationship with Putin’
Earlier on Wednesday, Russia also rejected the claims and said they were aimed at damaging Moscow’s relations with Washington.
“The Kremlin does not have compromising information on Trump,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists, calling the claims a “total fake” and “obvious attempt to harm our bilateral relations”..
Al Jazeera’s Natasha Ghoneim, reporting from Moscow, said there was “a lot of disgust” in Moscow over the allegations that Russia drafted an incriminating and compromising dossier on Trump.
“The Kremlin has been using pretty fiery rhetoric, calling it a ‘hoax’ … and sad as people are raising hysteria for this ‘continuing witchhunt.'”
Asked about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump called it “an asset, not a liability” and an improvement over what he called America’s current “horrible relationship with Russia”.
“If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks, that’s called an asset not a liability. I don’t know if I’m going to get along with Vladimir Putin – I hope I do – but there’s a good chance I won’t.”
Trump, however, acknowledged for the first that Russia likely hacked the Democratic National Committee and the emails of other top Democrats during the 2016 presidential election.
‘Build a wall’
In the wide-ranging – and often chaotic – news conference, Trump also vowed to forge ahead with plans for a wall on the southern US border after taking office, said, however, that Mexico would reimburse the US for the cost.
“I could wait about a year and a half until we finish our negotiations with Mexico, which we’ll start immediately after we get to office, but I don’t want to wait,” Trump said.
“We’re going to start building,” he said. “Mexico in some form – and there are many different forms – will reimburse us and they will reimburse us for the cost of the wall.”
“That will happen. Whether it’s a tax or whether it’s a payment.”
The real estate developer also used the news conference to describe how he will separate himself from his global business operations to avoid conflicts of interest once he takes office.
Trump also talked about how he plans to bring manufacturing jobs back from overseas plants, slamming drug companies for “getting away with murder” on pricing.